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The Secret Trust of Aspasia Cruvellier Mirault

Janice L. Sumler-Edmond

Published Date: August 10, 2008

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The Life and Trials of a Free Woman of Color in Antebellum Georgia
180 Pages
9 Photos
6" x 9"

About this book

In this fascinating biography set in nineteenth-century Savannah, Georgia, Janice L. Sumler-Edmond resurrects the life and times of Aspasia Cruvellier Mirault, a free woman of color whose story was until now lost to historical memory. It’s a story that informs our understanding of the antebellum South as we watch this widowed matriarch navigate the social, economic, and political complexities to create a legacy for her family.


In the spring of 1842 Aspasia entered a secret trust with a white man whose help she needed to become a landowner. Sumler-Edmond’s research of Aspasia’s family and this trust arrangement, the outcome of which was determined by a dramatic three-party trial that went to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1878, provides new perspectives on the African American experience and on American history while telling the memorable story of a remarkable woman.

About the author

Janice L. Sumler-Edmond is professor of history and chair of the Department of Humanities and Fine Arts and director of the W.E.B. Dubois Honors Program at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. She is coeditor of two previous books: Freedom’s Odyssey: African American History Essays from Phylon and Black Women’s History at the Intersection of Knowledge and Power: ABWH’s Twentieth Anniversary Anthology.


“A valuable addition to the scholarship of the antebellum South. Through the author’s research into little known historical territory, scholars can understand better how free black people operated in a southern city.”

—Diane Batts Morrow, author of Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828–1860


“A study that will make a timely contribution to the scholarship of antebellum and post-bellum life in a southern city. The amplification of the struggles and successes of the free black Cruvellier and Mirault families reveals much that is new about the evolution of urban stratification in a slave society.”

—Billy Higgins, author of A Stranger and a Sojourner: Peter Caulder, Free Black Frontiersman in Antebellum Arkansas

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